Ultrasonography, the method of using ultrasound waves to determine flaws in the human body, is now used to find out the gender of the foetus inside the womb. Parents check the gender of the unborn child and abort the pregnancy if it is a girl. This has not only disturbed the sex-ratio of the country but has also created problems in the society. Why is this act of cruelty performed? The answer to this question lies within the society.
In the Indian society, the dependence and lack of freedom for women has not only provided men an importance over them but it has also given parents the fear of having a girl child. From early ages, girls were considered burdens for their parents. Marrying them off at a young age to a considerably good boy is the only consideration parents have after the girl child is born. This belief is so deeply rooted in a girl’s mind till date she very easily shifts all her attention to her husband and his family once she gets married.
The girl’s family has to pay a huge dowry and abide by all the wishes of the in-laws for rest of their lives. All this is done in the name of preventing the girl from being harassed. But, all these are not applicable for a boy. They neither are considered a burden, nor have to pay dowry or shift their attention to the bride’s family. Our society has created a big difference between a girl and a boy. The society in the years hoping to work towards the benefit of women, have worked for the reverse. Then why will parents want to have daughters?
Being a girl in the Indian society is a curse. The mortality rate of the girl child is also high. It is because of parental discrimination against daughters in terms of health care and nutrition. The superiority of the male has grown as a parasite and has affected millions, whether poor or rich, educated or uneducated. The value placed on a son is so high that it is not uncommon to see parents having two or more daughters in hope that the next child would be a son. This has led to an increase in India’s population.
According to the 2001 census, there are 933 females per 1000 males. Though there has been a six-point improvement in the female to male ratio from 1991 to 2001, which is an encouraging development after the eighteen-point drop from 1981 to 1991. All these figures explain the extensive female foeticide in India. Most north Indian states and states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat have experienced a steep fall in the ratio. In Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat the number of females barely reaches 874, 861 and 921 respectively per thousand males. Kerala is the only state which has 1058 females per 1000 males. This I personally think is because in Kerala, the girl of the family inherits the ancestral property and thus girls are made financially independent.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’s population as a result of systemic gender discrimination. There have been several cases of leaving day-old girl-children near the gates of temples, churches leaving the fault-less child’s fate in the hands of God. Selling girl child to child-less parent is another city.
Over the years Indian society has changed, but the rate by which it is changing for the betterment of women is very slow. We need to accelerate it. Several schemes were introduced by the Indian government to improve the situation of women in India and to uplift the disastrous sex ratio. The current existing trend has involved outrage from human right organisations, the government, the, NGOs, intellectuals, religious organisations and others. Government has banned pre-natal sex determination. The Sec-23(3) of the Indian Penal Code, says that any person who seeks the aid of a genetic counselling centre, pathological labs, and gynaecologists for pre-natal sex determination upon the pregnant women shall be punishable with imprisonment for 3 years and a fine of Rupees 10,000.
It is unfortunate that though these laws are laid down, they are not implemented. The practice of female foeticide prevails. As this act of cruelty cannot be done by good hands openly, they are done by immature, unprofessional doctors and sometimes by compounders secretly. It leads to many kinds of diseases. Frequent abortions lead to deterioration in the physiology and heart of the woman. It has harmful mental effects. Voluntary abortion is psychologically a traumatic event for the mother. For no fault of her own, the girl child in the womb is killed before her birth. As a consequence of this, women-hunt has become common. This has pushed the women into a deeper trench.
As a part of the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1998, the United Nations launched a global campaign for elimination of gender-based violence. The objective was to influence public attitude towards this issue. Female foeticide is one extreme manifestation of violence against women- a social problem that is now spreading unchecked across the country. Female foeticide declines girls – “The right to live” – the first fundamental right given to all living beings.
Now this new generation has to work upon this grave issue. Dowry collection which is already banned should be strictly enforced. Vocational training should be given to women, free counselling to be provided to poor citizens. Free and high quality crèches and kindergarten schools for girls should be widely established. This would also provide employment opportunity for women. Women should be educated on the issue of female foeticide. Abortions only for medical reasons should be legalised. This also means wide availability of birth controlling measures, for otherwise; its enforcement will just result in increased misery for parents towards the unwanted girl child. In order to strengthen further the monitoring of female foeticide and girl child survival, the Registrar General of India, has made it mandatory for all the Chief Registrars of Births & Deaths to closely monitor the sex ratio at birth every month.
Female foeticide dwells among the society implemented by someone who is a part of us. But the root cause is not them but the social pattern which has made sons a preferred commodity and daughters a liability. We need to change ourselves, our outlook towards a girl and a boy and a male and a female. Till we don’t give equal importance to a girl and to a boy and of course to a man and to a woman, female foeticide will continue to persist in our society. These unborn, lost girls can give joy and glory to you and to the nation. They can become doctors, engineers and even pilots. At the same time, they are and will be good wives and good mothers.
Thus, we arrive to a conclusion that female foeticide is a devil in itself that lives amongst us and torments the lives of people all around it. So let’s stand united and fight against this growing parasite.
Give them the chance to prove themselves. Give them the chance to live.
Help us, help yourself.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 January 2017
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